TOP STORY >> Self impressed with community support
Leader staff writer
Brig. Gen. Kip Self took command of the 314th Airlift Wing Sept. 9 in the midst of a massive international-relief airlift, relieving Brig. Gen. Joseph M. Reheiser.
Interviewed this week by The Leader, Self said he was impressed by the airmen and the community.
“All responses are extremely positive,” Self said.
The general, who has been on the flightline to meet many of the international relief flights, said the outpouring of support was “incredible.”
“The primary mission is to train C-130 crews and maintainers,” he said, characterizing the base’s relief effort as “Herculean.”
Self said the airmen had handled 36 international relief flights.
“It’s something that Little Rock didn’t expect, but took on with great success,” he added.
After only 10 days on the job, Self said the Little Rock Air Force Base total force — active duty, guard and civilian, and the city outside the gate — had a reputation of excellence.
“I’ve never been here before, but every indication is that reputation was well founded,” he said. “The mission aspects are outstanding as well.”
Self said that due to the annual retiree day and dinner, he had met many civic leaders.
Self doesn’t know how long international relief flights will land at Little Rock Air Force Base, but said, “We just need to be flexible enough to handle what comes over the ocean.
“We are poised to continue and ready to do that which is asked of us. The biggest challenge for Kip Self is to learn all the different aspects of the base’s duties for the nation’s defense and the community,” Self said. “Once I have understanding, it will be easier to lead. I think the base has it about right — mission, people, community. I’m just going to get better at supporting that.”
The general said in time, he might fine-tune the effort.
He said logistics and coordination were fundamental in the ability to succeed and he has experience in those areas.
“Logistics are critical in relief and in combat,” he said. “I’d be hesitant to change anything. They have momentum and have been so successful for so long. I’ll take time to watch my people, get better and make small tweaks. We have the foundation of excellence here.”
Self said his command style is to “trust in my people, have confidence in my training and confidence in the mission’s accomplishment. I’m like the coach of a Super Bowl team. The skill’s already there. My biggest responsibility is to make sure we have the resources to complete the mission. I’m proud to come in as commander. The president and the governor have commented what a great opportunity to show our stuff, and I don’t think we’ve disappointed.”
Self has three adult children, one of whom has followed him into the Air Force. “I just commissioned him in May as a second lieutenant,” he said.
Second Lt. Ben Self is awaiting pilot training at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, and is currently working command control in New Orleans.
Brig. Gen. Self comes to the Little Rock Air Force Base after serving as the deputy director of operations, headquarters Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, where he oversaw 14 divisions and eight operating locations, producing policy procedures and leading command guidance to sustain and improve many outfits for America’s Global Reach mission.
He has held a variety of flying assignments as a helicopter and C-141 instructor pilot. His staff assignments included political-military planner on the Joint Staff and country director in the office of the Secretary of Defense.
He has commanded the 16th Airlift Squadron and the 621st Air Mobility Operations Group.
He deployed as director of mobility forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and during Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was commander of expeditionary air forces at Kuwait City.
He is a command pilot with more than 4,000 hours in a variety of aircraft. Self said he has never flown a C-130, but looks forward to the opportunity.
His awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster and Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters.